MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti)
Argumenty i Fakty
Bolshoi Theatre to Publish Open Letter in Support of Pavel Dmitrichenko
Over 150 employees of the Bolshoi Theatre have signed an open letter in support of leading dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko who is suspected of having masterminded a mid-January acid attack on the Bolshoi’s art director Sergei Filin.
The letter is less about Dmitrichenko’s fate than it is about due process, specifically the presumption of innocence. It lashes out at the media which, the letter implies, tend to sensationalize the preliminary findings in an investigation as though all the facts had been presented.
“Strictly speaking, we’re not supporting Dmitrichenko as such. We’re concerned about the publicity and public response that could influence the investigation. Pavel is quite likely a victim in all this,” a source at the Bolshoi said, adding it was too early to draw any conclusions.
“There are too many assumptions and too few facts. We’re insisting on a public investigative commission,” the source said.
Soon after the attack in question, the police detained three suspects, including Pavel Dmitrichenko who allegedly masterminded the crime. At first he made incriminating statements but he still refused to plead guilty in court. The Bolshoi’s Director General, Anatoly Iksanov, believes that Dmitrichenko is not the real mastermind.
Russia Pressures Cyprus to Disclose Investor Details
Russia’s Finance Ministry seems to be trying to use the dire financial situation in Cyprus to their advantage by squeezing information on Russian investors suspected of “hiding” their capital in the tax haven in exchange for loans.
Pressuring Cyprus is a cornerstone of Russia’s plan to raise additional revenues in 2014-2016, currently being drafted on the orders of First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the Finmarket news agency reports. The ministry proposed demanding from low-tax jurisdictions “all the records available concerning Russian founders and beneficiaries of locally registered corporations, trusts and funds, as well as individual and corporate bank accounts.”
Incidentally, Cyprus is the only country of those mentioned in the plan that Russia is supporting financially. In 2011, Russia provided it a loan of 2.5 billion euros for four and a half years. The Cypriot authorities asked for an extension to five years earlier this year. In 2012, Cyprus also asked for another loan.
The recently revised dual taxation agreement between Russia and Cyprus, effective from January 1, does not include any disclosure requirements. An information exchange clause states that the two countries’ taxation authorities are to share information based on formal requests, which should include the purpose of inquiry as well as reason to believe the Cypriot authority has the required information.
But Russia now wants to change the OECD-recommended inquiry format and make the Cypriot authorities work to contribute to its coffers. Given that the authorities are unlikely to have the required information, they will have to seek it from the banks. Until recently, Russia has had no success in obtaining investor records from Cyprus.
Although the plan to obtain records of all beneficiaries seems unrealistic, one must keep in mind that a similar request from the US Internal Revenue Service to UBS AG triggered the dismantling of the entire system of Swiss banking secrecy, said Rustam Vakhitov from International Tax Associates B.V. The two countries eventually worked out a sharing arrangement, and US taxpayers who had failed to declare their Swiss deposits were given the opportunity to turn themselves in.
The US tax authorities believe the move was a success.
Cyprus is also likely to concede to its creditor’s demand, the analyst said. The European Union also insists on transparency in exchange for loans. Incidentally, Europe is very emphatic about transparency with regard to money of Russian or Ukrainian origin. According to a report by the German intelligence agency, the BND, which caused uproar last year, around 20 billion euros deposited with Cypriot banks come from Russia. Other estimates range from 8 to 35 billion euros.
“There is no strategic force in place which could protect Russian beneficiaries in this situation,” Vakhitov said. “They should not hold out much hope of keeping things the way they are.”
Dmitry Gudkov: Russian Politicians Own Half of Miami
The Russian Public Chamber is looking into a private trip taken by parliament member Dmitry Gudkov to the US where he met with American families who had adopted Russian children. Gudkov also attended a conference on relations between the US, the EU and Russia against the background of recent Russian legislation. In his blog, Gudkov wrote that he had enlisted the support of US senators in uncovering American real estate belonging to Russian politicians.
Gudkov spent at least $10,000 on his trip. The Public Chamber has reason to assume he could have used public funds.
The United Russia party’s State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak said that a politician seeking support in and acting for the benefit of another country is a traitor. A Just Russia’s leader Sergei Mironov is disappointed that Gudkov, also a member of the party, did not inform him of his intentions. The party will review Gudkov’s statements at a meeting tomorrow.
“First of all, I covered all my expenses myself. I traveled economy class and paid 24,540 rubles for the tickets. This is easy to prove since I paid with my credit card,” Gudkov told MK. “My intention was to find out how Russian children are living in their adoptive families in the US. What I found was that our people are absolutely right calling the adoption ban a ‘law of cowards.’ I enjoyed a warm welcome and people were happy to talk. I visited three random families that had adopted Russian kids and I didn’t hear a single complaint.
Gudkov says he turned to American senators for support in fighting corruption.
“You can expect more ‘crooks and thieves’ to be brought to justice soon. I stress here that my trip was solely for the benefit of our country. In my speech, I pointed out that Russia now has a middle class and that we have embraced high technology but that the country is controlled by a bunch of crooks and thieves. Didn’t Putin himself call for urgency in fighting corruption? I was obviously trying to be helpful to Putin.”
“Russian politicians do whatever they want in this country, but they do care about their reputation abroad. They have foreign bank accounts. Their children study abroad. Russian politicians own half of Miami. I’m sure the media has caused a stir around my trip to distract people from the real scandals involving our politicians.”
Speaking about washing dirty linen in public, Gudkov said his partnership with American senators is totally equal and there is no reason they can’t work together. In fact, it is a common practice to involve parliament members from different countries in commissions to combat international threats such as terrorism.
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